A Pastor’s Perspective
“Let marriage be held in honor among all…Heb. 11:4”
Question? Why would the Holy Spirit inspired writer of Hebrews command Christians to honor the institution of marriage among themselves and promote it as honorable throughout society? The task seems daunting given the landscape of today’s culture which has intentionally embraced marital and familial anarchy in efforts to redefine marriage. In the challenge of “honoring” marriage in a society entangled in neo-pagan fabrications of marriage, the God-given definition of marriage is unmistakably communicated in the Biblical creation account; throughout Scripture; in the Decalogue; proclaimed by the prophets; expounded by the Apostles and affirmed by Christ Himself. The definition is repeatedly affirmed in Scripture as first encountered in Genesis 2:24.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
Marriage is defined as a covenantal, heterosexual, monogamous and conjugal relationship. In short hand, marriage is one man united to one woman for life. Why should marriage be “honored by all?” Why are we commanded to promote a Biblical definition of marriage throughout human society? How can this be accomplished?
Here are two foundational reasons (and there are more) as to why Biblical marriage should be honored and ten practical pastoral recommendations as to how we can promote its honor throughout society.
Two Foundational Reasons
- Marriage is not simply a church ordinance or an inbred church sacrament. Marriage is a Creation mandate. It is a Divine decree foundational and necessary for human flourishing. If I love God I will embrace and promote marriage as a Biblically mandated institution because it is a Divine commandment – when you love Him you keep His commandments. Furthermore, since I love my neighbor and knowing that if we break God’s law (including the mandate of marriage) then God’s law will break you. So, since I love my neighbor and I desire to be “salt and light” as an instrument of redeeming grace which transforms sinners and an instrument of common grace that restrains the inevitable death spiral of sin, then I will endeavor to promote marriage as a Divine blessing of public policy for humanity.
- I will promote the Creation mandate of marriage “to all” because God designed and implemented it and He designed it for all of humanity. Marriage is intentionally used in Scripture as a metaphor for God’s unbreakable covenant of grace with His people. Note how the Bible describes Christ as “the bridegroom” and His church (those whom He has saved) as His “bride.” Foundationally, marriage is a blessing to humanity and its primary purpose is to reveal God’s redemptive covenantal relationship with His people. Marriage isn’t simply a helpful institution for God to conveniently adapt as an illustration of His covenantal saving relationship with His people. It was primarily designed to exist for this glorious purpose from the beginning. Two thousand years ago the Son of God “left His Father” to “cleave to His Bride” by purchasing Her with His redeeming atonement at the Cross. He purposed to dwell with His bride by His Spirit now and then with His glorified presence in the New Heavens and Earth. He has covenantally saved His Bride to lead Her as a servant through “the washing of the Word” and to love Her as a joint heir of the grace of life through His Word and by His Holy Spirit while preparing a place for Her. Then, He will return to bring Her to Himself for all eternity.
Therefore, marriage is to be “held in honor among all,” as a blessing to humanity and continual Gospel witness of Christ’s covenantal relationship with His Bride and a glorious witness of the power of the Gospel for Christian marriages “in the Lord” demonstrating “God’s grace is greater than all of our sins.”
How can Christ’s church engage in the public square to defend and promote the public policy of marriage as defined by God – one man, one woman, one life – and winsomely do so by contending without being contentious and defending without being defensive through demonstrating the blessing of marriages for the Lord and in the Lord?
Ten Practical Suggestions
- In preaching, promote the public policy of a Biblically defined marriage and identify its benefits for society.
- Prepare, officiate and shepherd marriages that are “in the Lord” beginning with a credible profession of faith from those being united in the Holy and Sacred bonds of Christian marriage.
- Provide Elder approved comprehensive pre-marital counseling.
- Insist on worshipful marriage ceremonies that proclaim the Gospel to those in attendance as well as those being married.
- Follow up in the initial, formative months with intentional post-marital shepherding/discipleship.
- Establish a ministry to “singles” that gives both a Biblical view of marriage and singleness; prepare singles in transition to marriage and equip and enfold those who are providentially called to singleness.
- Develop a Titus 2 ministry of equipped older men ministering to young men and older women to young women.
- Confront the inevitable tendency of believers to take the blessings of God’s good gifts of God (i.e. food, drink, work, play, rest, marriage, family) and making them into idols by putting them before God, beside God or above God as the savior of their lives instead of enjoying them for His glory.
- Institute intercessory prayer throughout the congregation for the promotion of marriage in society as a beneficial public policy; for those not yet married; for those called to singleness and for existing marriages.
- Equip the people of God to enjoy and implement family worship while preparing for Lord’s Day Worship.